Justify's Hard to Justify Punches Breeders' Cup Ticket in Miss Grillo

Hard to Justify | Susie Raisher


“She really engaged and switched gears. From there, I thought she got the job done,” understated journeyman Flavien Prat about his mount, 7-1 Hard to Justify (f, 2, Justify-Instant Reflex, by Quality Road), in Wednesday's rescheduled 'Win and You're In' GII Miss Grillo S. at Belmont's Big A meet. The win, her second from two starts, gives Hard to Justify a fees-paid berth into the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf next month at Santa Anita.

A big, hearty-looking filly, Hard to Justify broke powerfully and cleanly from the inside to ease smoothly up to the front. She was swiftly joined by an intent-on-the-lead Camila T (Ire) (No Nay Never), who was fresh off a 13-length debut romp and field-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure at Monmouth Park Aug. 19. Hard to Justify let her go, tracking as a solo second through the :23.93 first quarter and :50 half. Pouncing on Camila T into the lane, Hard to Justify proved game as she put away a challenging Whimsically (Uncle Mo) and dug in to hold off a rallying Life's an Audible (Audible). The race favorite, Bill Mott's GIII With Anticipation S. winner Gala Brand (Violence), was fourth.

Hard to Justify is the ninth Miss Grillo winner for trainer Chad Brown, going back to 2008 with inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Maram (Sahm).

Wise Racing bought Hard to Justify out of last year's Keeneland September sale for $190,000. She debuted July 23 under Prat at the Spa in a determined effort. Her head win that day came after bumping, steadying, facing traffic, losing ground, and finally closing while six wide, making it a far more visually impressive effort than it may appear on paper.

“The first race, she broke OK and then I let her sit back,” said Prat. “After that, I had to check at the three-eighths, going into the last turn. I thought that race she had every right to get beat and she didn't, so I thought it was impressive and I was expecting a good run today.”


Pedigree Notes:

Coolmore America stallion and 2018 Horse of the Year Justify is having a stellar year with his second-crop 2-year-olds, which include Sunday's G1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac winner Opera Singer, this summer's dual GSW Ramatuelle in France, English GSW City of Troy, and now Hard to Justify. Overall, Justify has 16 black-type winners bred in this hemisphere, as well as 11 graded winners in these initial two crops. A number of different broodmare sire lines are represented in those first stakes winners and Hard to Justify is the only one out of a mare by Quality Road. That Lane's End sire, only 17, has 10 black-type winners out of his first daughters.

Yeguada Centurion bought the winner's dam in foal to Arrogate for $300,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November sale and bred her the next year to Justify, resulting in the Miss Grillo winner. The mare has only had one reported foal since, an Uncle Mo colt that is now a yearling and was foaled in Ireland. Placed in the 2017 GIII Senator Ken Maddy S., Instant Reflex hails from the same family as 2018 GIII Pat Day Mile S. winner Funny Duck (Distorted Humor) and 2020 GII Tampa Bay Derby winner/GI Arkansas Derby runner-up King Guillermo (Uncle Mo).

Wednesday, Aqueduct
MISS GRILLO S.-GII, $200,000, Belmont The Big A, 10-4, 2yo, f, 1 1/16mT, 1:43.92, fm.
1–HARD TO JUSTIFY, 120, f, 2, by Justify
                1st Dam: Instant Reflex (GSP), by Quality Road
                2nd Dam: Without Delay, by Seeking the Gold
                3rd Dam: Slow Down, by Seattle Slew
Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Wise Racing LLC; B-Yeguada Centurion S.L.
(KY); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Flavien Prat. $110,000. Lifetime
Record: 2-2-0-0, $167,750. Click for the free
Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Life's an Audible, 120, f, 2, Audible–Catkins, by Data Link.
KEENOV; $90,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP; $200,000 2yo '23 OBSMAR).
O-Repole Stable; B-Susan Moulton (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.
3–Whimsically, 118, f, 2, Uncle Mo–Coming Attraction, by
Ylg '22 FTSAUG). O-Haymarket Farm LLC, Ingordo, David,
Manganaro Bloodstock, LBD Stable LLC & Diamond T Racing;
B-Audley Farm Equine, LLC (VA); T-Cherie DeVaux. $24,000.
Margins: HF, 1, 2 3/4. Odds: 7.30, 12.70, 59.75.
Also Ran: Gala Brand, Memorialize, Gold Lightning, Later Darling, Sierra Sky, Steel Lute, Dancing Spirit, Camila T (Ire). Scratched: Appellate. Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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